Air Quality Planning
Air pollution comes from many different sources - factories, power plants, various small businesses like dry cleaners – but it also comes from mobile sources. Mobile sources include cars, trucks, buses, trains, ships, lawn mowers, and construction equipment.
Transportation-related air pollution is pollution that results from the operation of cars, trucks, buses, trains, and ships. Although transportation is only one cause of the air pollution in the Baltimore region, it is a sizeable one.
What we do for cleaner air
In addition to working closely with member jurisdictions and the Maryland Departments of the Environment and Transportation, the Baltimore Regional Transportation Board (BRTB) does a number of things to address transportation and air quality issues and to promote cleaner air.
Policy and Planning
- How Far Can We Get? Study - The How Far Can We Get? Study was initiated by the Baltimore Regional Transportation Board in fall 2013 to better understand the level of emission reductions that are achievable through a reasonable level of reduction measure implementation, and to inform the region’s next long range transportation plan, Maximize2040. The How Far Can We Get Oversight Committee was formed to handle the decision-making and oversight of the study, conducted by BMC staff. The objectives of the study were to understand:
The federal fuel economy and Tier 3/low sulfur fuel programs for light-duty vehicles from 2017-2025 can reduce GHG emissions 11.7% in 2030 and 17.6% in 2040. Additionally, the recommended strategies from this report, the Vehicle Technology Plus/Marketing Scenario, estimate a 2.9% reduction in 2030 and a 9.8% reduction in 2040. When combined these strategies may result in up to a 15% and 27% reduction in GHG emissions in 2030 and 2040, respectively.
- The level of existing and future greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the region’s transportation system;
- How far the region can reduce GHG emissions through transportation emission reduction measures (TERMs); and,
- Options to address GHG’s in the Baltimore region’s long-range transportation plan, Maximize2040.
- Air Quality Conformity - Because the Baltimore region is not currently meeting federal air quality standards, the BRTB must show that the emissions resulting from transportation plans, programs, and federally-funded projects are within emissions limits set by the State of Maryland’s air quality plan. Every transportation plan for the region is studied to see what effect the projects could have on air quality. This process is called “transportation conformity”, or just “conformity.”
- Interagency Consultation Group - The ICG meets monthly to discuss current transportation topics and how they affect the region’s air quality.
Outreach and education
To help reduce emissions from transportation sources, the Baltimore Metropolitan Council conducts several outreach efforts designed to educate people about the relationship between driving and air quality. These include:
- Bike to Work Day – hundreds of cyclists join early morning pep rallies at several locations throughout the region.
- Outreach appearances at community events – our staff, joined by volunteers from the Clean Commute Partnership, talk to thousands of people one-on-one about transportation and air quality and to promote Clean Commuting options such as riding mass transit or carpooling.
- Commuter "thank-you" events – we show our appreciation to folks who use area park and ride facilities.
- Media campaigns – TV, radio, and print ads are used to spread the word about transportation and air quality
- Environmental News Brief - The Environmental News Brief e-newsletter serves as a resource to inform stakeholders and the public about news related to air quality and transportation in the Baltimore region.
- Partnerships - Staff works closely with groups like Metro RideShare and Clean Air Partners to educate the public about improving air quality.
- Clean Air Partners - In 1997, the Baltimore Metropolitan Council and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments co-chartered the Clean Air Partners organization. This unique public/private partnership educates residents of the Baltimore and Washington regions about the health dangers of air pollution. Clean Air Partners also promotes simple things people can do to help reduce the amount of pollutants released in our air. As part of Clean Air Partners, BMC staff members take part in:
- Coordinating the Baltimore region’s Air Quality Action Days Program
- Providing communications and support to the over two hundred organizations participating in the Air Quality Action Days program
- Recruiting new members for Clean Air Partners
- Visiting community events and schools to promote awareness of air quality issues
- Answering media question about air pollution